DIXON – A state police official said Tuesday that it had been “premature” for her to say last week that the death of Lee Catlin, whose body was found on Interstate 88 on Nov. 13, was alcohol-related.
During an interview with the Associated Press, state police spokeswoman Monique Bond had said, “It does appear alcohol was a contributing factor [in Catlin’s death].”
On Tuesday, she said that statement might have been “premature,” because toxicology reports have yet to be released by the Lee County coroner. But she stood by her statement that alcohol might have played a role in Catlin’s death, citing preliminary reports.
Many questions about Catlin’s death are still unanswered. But in denying Sauk Valley Media’s request for public records in the case, state police this week indicated they were involved in “an ongoing criminal investigation” into the death. They released no further details.
Catlin, 65, of Bettendorf, Iowa, was found Nov. 13 along the side of the highway, just west of Dixon, almost 12 hours after two 911 calls had been made to alert state police to his presence.
Four days before Catlin’s body was found, he was arrested by Davenport police and charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence, a first offense, according to Iowa court records.
Catlin’s car was found along the highway, less than a mile west of where his body was discovered.
Brandi Chudoba, an attorney for the family, declined to publicly discuss anything related to Catlin’s death, but released a statement on the family’s behalf saying: “Our family is very saddened by this tragedy. We are just trying to find answers as to what happened to our father, so that another family will not have to experience the same.”
Earlier this week, state police denied a Freedom of Information Act request by Sauk Valley Media for any incident report made by troopers who investigated the 911 calls about a man on the side of the highway on the night before Catlin’s body was found.
Lt. Steve Lyddon, the FOIA officer for the state police, stated he was denying the request for records because it “would interfere with a pending law enforcement proceeding,” “could create a substantial likelihood that a person will be deprived of a fair trial or an impartial hearing,” and “would obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation by the Illinois State Police, as interviews are currently being conducted.”
Regarding the state police’s response, Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association, said the state police have a legal obligation to provide a detailed factual basis when citing an exemption to the information law. He questioned how the release of the incident report would interfere with any proceeding.
State police officials have said troopers sent that night to look into the 911 calls found no sign of a man in the area, and that no internal investigation was looking into the troopers’ conduct.